By Llanesca T. Panti, Reporter

Much needs to be done in order for the Philippines to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations, a UN official in Manila said Tuesday.

Suneeta Mukherjee, chairman of the UN Advocacy Group and country representative of UN Population Fund (UNFPA) office in Manila, said the Philippines is not on track in meeting three of the eight goals—the ones on maternal health, on combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases and on achieving universal primary education. The other millennium development goals are eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

The advocacy group is comprised of UN officials posted in Manila, who launched on Tuesday a search for an MDG youth champion, a project with the Rotary Club of Makati Legaspi.

Mukherjee said 11 mothers die during childbirth everyday in the Philippines. Ten of these mothers could be saved, she added.

“Women, just like the unborn child, have the right to live,” said Mukherjee, who first visited the Philippines in 1977.

She called for a concentrated effort from the Department of Health, stressing that it needs to educate parents about a proper family planning program to stop the maternal-death cases, saying that mothers who usually die in giving birth bear six children during their lifetime.

“This situation forgets how special parents are,” Mukherjee said. “Mothers are crucial in teaching the children the values that they need to improve not only themselves but moreover their country.”

Abortions on the rise

Worse, Mukherjee added that one-third of mothers are committing abortion, with increasing cases involving mothers age 25 years and younger.

“This is a clear violation of women and children’s rights. Abortion should not be done under all circumstances,” she said.

She also hit the reversal of trend with regard to HIV positive or AIDS victims, saying that of 23 million young Filipinos, four million have already engaged in sex at a young age. That may explain why HIV cases involving the youth went up 29 percent, she added, citing also that a third of young women gave birth before their 21st birthday.

The UN official also reported that the carefree lifestyle of young people today that includes drinking and smoking is not doing any good. Around nine million young Filipinos smoke and 11 million drink alcoholic beverages, she said, adding that five out of six youth either smoke or drink.

“We cannot afford to be complacent because the future of the country depends on these young ones,” Mukherjee said.

And to help them become the hope of the country, she said young people receive quality education to provide them with knowledge and information needed to make better life decisions.

Today, only 58 percent of Filipino children have access to primary education, far short of the 100-percent target, the UN official added, “There is just seven years to go” until the deadline in 2015.

But Mukherjee said she believed the Philippines and the other countries that committed to the development goals are capable of overcoming the challenges, even amid the global financial crisis.

Youth champion

The advocacy group and the Rotary Club of Makati Legaspi will select eight MDG champions, who will be announced in March 2009. Winners will receive an Orlina or Abueva glass sculpture, scholarship grant, study tour to the UN general headquarters in New York City, a slot in the third Asia and the Pacific Model UN Conference and a grant to travel around the Philippines as UN goodwill ambassadors.

Faustino Almendral, president of Rotary Club of Makati Legaspi, said, “We are happy to be a part of this project, because the Rotary Club’s goals’ are almost the same as those of the MDGs.”(ManilaTimes)


  1. b4ugo Says:

    Hoping that the Rotary Club of Makati which composed of the Elite will give considerations to those poor but talented individuals.

    Those talented but rich can afford to send their kids to any private schools.Why not separate two “good irons”. It is not better to try those who labor yet smart and talented? Before China was awake says: Good iron is not use for nails. Nor good men are wasted to be soldiers.
    And yet the Sleeping Giant now change and awaken.

  2. Bob Says:

    The goal set is huge and sometimes seems to be unachievable seeing the market and monetary situation. But still the candles of hopes must not be turned off.

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